Firefighters to get raises; housing issues to be expedited

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — To clear up some confusion left over from a marathon impasse hearing late last month, the Board of County Commissioners took up the issue of firefighters’ salaries and housing health Tuesday morning.

Firefighters, Commissioners unanimously agreed, would get a 5.5 percent cost of living adjustment raise.

“We are standing here as a group today,” Emergency Services Director John King said, standing beside a member of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2201leadership.

Commissioners supported the revised salary agreement, which will become effective the first pay period following the contract’s ratification with the union.

Commissioners also approved up to $250,000 for County Administrator Joe Baird to use for temporarily housing the firefighters assigned to Station No. 7.

“We’re moving forward as quickly as we possibly can,” Commission Chair Wesley Davis said.

Under normal circumstances, Baird has a $50,000 cap on expenses before being required to go to the Board for permission.

Commissioners agreed that Baird needs the flexibility to handle the housing issue. Firefighters have tested positive for mold, which has been linked to unhealthy fire houses.

County Finance Director Jason Brown told Commissioners that all fire houses have been tested and the County is moving forward with remediation.

Stations 10 and 11 are expected to take about a month to remediate.

As for Station 7, Commissioner Peter O’Bryan directed Brown to pass along to the contractor to expedite the fire house’s repairs, encouraging the crew to work long days and weekends if need be to get it done.

“We will convey the urgency,” Brown said.

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